Buy State Flags from Allstate FlagsBuy US flags from Five Star Flags
This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

German Ensigns and Other Naval Flags

Last modified: 2006-08-26 by jarig bakker
Keywords: war ensign | jack |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

See also:

War Ensign

[War Ensign and Jack (Germany] 3:5  - image by Marcus Schmöger
Flag adopted 25th May 1956

Service Ensign for Naval Forces of the Federal Armed Forces / Dienstflagge der Seestreitkräfte der Bundeswehr: A swallow tail version of the service flag [state flag and ensign]. Adopted 1956. Illustrated in Pedersen 1971 p. 30, Smith 1975, p. 227 and Album des Pavillons 1990, p. 17.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998

The naval ensign is swallowtailed and bears the shield slightly shifted to the hoist. It was legally prescribed on 25th May 1956 with the Anordnung des Bundespräsidenten über die Dienstflagge der Seestreitkräfte der Bundeswehr (Instruction of the Federal President on the Service Flag of the Naval Forces of the Federal Armed Forces), published in the Bundesgesetzblatt I 1956, p. 447. It is also used as naval jack. Sources: Laitenberger and Bassier 2000, Friedel 1968 and Bundesministerium des Innern 1956.
Marcus Schmöger, 14 Mar 2001

According to the navy regulation [Marine Dienstvorschrift] MDv 161/1 (Bundesministerium der Verteidigung 1977), the naval ensign is called Dienstflagge der Seestreitkräfte der Bundeswehr (service flag of the naval forces of the Bundeswehr). It is mainly used by the warships in service. (...) Ships using the naval ensign also use a smaller variant as a jack (Gösch). The size is also regulated in the MDv 161/1: ensigns 70 × 115 cm, 80 × 135 cm, 120 × 200 cm, 150 × 250 cm, 200 × 335 cm; the jack has either 50 × 85 cm or 70 × 115 cm. The prescribed size of the flags depends on the size of the ship: submarines and fast attack crafts use the smallest available flags, frigates and destroyers the bigger variants. A special case is the Gorch Fock, the training sailing ship, which uses an even bigger variant of the naval ensign (300 × 500 cm).
Marcus Schmöger, 21 Nov 2001

My explanations on the use of the war ensign or the federal service flag for auxiliary ships might be misleading. Jan Patrick Fischer learned - as a soldier aboard a navy tender - that all ships with military crews - including supply ships - would hoist the war ensign. Obviously the term "auxiliary ship" is somewhat ambiguous, and used quite differently in different navies. Citing the MDv 161/1 again:
- A warship has a military crew under a commanding officer of the navy; a warship is listed in the MDv 180/1, chapter 2;
- An auxiliary ship has a civil crew under a captain; an auxiliary ship is listed in the MDv 180/1, chapter 3.
Marcus Schmöger, 23 Nov 2001

New ensign?

I have heard that the new unified Deutsche Marine, the successor to the BundesMarine and the East German Navy has adopted a new ensign, but I have not been able to find it anywhere on your site. Do you have any info on this new ensign?
Ken, 31 Oct 2002

German reunion was more a merger of East Germany into the Federal Republic of Germany. That's why there was as far as I know no change of any symbols of the FRG. For sure not at the navy.
J. Patrick Fischer, 3 Nov 2002

There is definitely no new ensign, but it would be interesting where you "heard that".
Marcus Schmöger, 3 Nov 2002

War Jack / Gösch der Seestreitkräfte

[War Ensign and Jack (Germany] 3:5 - image by Marcus Schmöger

According to Brockhaus 1968, the German naval jack is black-red-gold swallow-tailed with the arms.
Pascal Vagnat, 2 May 1996

A smaller version of the Ensign. Adopted 1956. Illustrated in Pedersen 1971 p. 30, Smith 1975, p. 227 and Album des Pavillons 1990, p. 17.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998

Pilot (Call) Flag / Lotsen(ruf)flagge

[Pilot Call Flag (Germany] 3:5 - image by Santiago Dotor

The Federal flag with a white border. Illustrated in Album des Pavillons 1990, p. 19. Continues the tradition of having the pilot flag be the merchant flag with a white border.
Norman Martin, Feb 1998

In Album des Pavillons 2000 there is no longer an image (nor a mention) of the Pilot Flag which appeared in the 1995 Recap. of Album des Pavillons 1990. Is it obsolete? Since when?
Željko Heimer, 28 Jan 2001

Since the pilot flag is (I assume) 3:5 and the white border has (again I assume) a uniform width, the German flag within is not 3:5 but 9:19 (slightly over 1:2).
Santiago Dotor, 6 Mar 2001

European Union ensign used in the Rhine?

['European Union' ensign used in the Rhine? (Germany] 2:3?  - image by Ivan Sarajcic, 3 Sep 1999

[During a recent journey in Germany] I saw some boats on the Rhine river flying, instead of the German national flag, the European Union flag with the [white] letter 'D' and [a small] German triband in center. Is there any explanation for that?
Ivan Sarajcic, 3 Sep 1999

In place of the ensign, do you mean? A couple of years ago we were told that France was challenging every vessel flying one of these European Union ensigns (though those had the national flags as small cantons). If it flew amidships, or forward, there is of course no problem.
John S. Ayer, 6 Sep 1999

Whilst it is true that such flags are probably illegal flown instead of the correct national merchant ensign on the high seas and in most countries' coastal waters, is the same true on international inland waterways? Certainly if the vessels that Ivan saw were on that part of the Rhine wholly within Germany I doubt there would be any problem at all. I would guess that the Rhine along the Franco-German border is half French and half German, so if the German vessels where on the Germany side of the border, again no problem. In the United Kingdom there is (as far as I know) no requirement for vessels on inland waterways to display any flag and most do not.
Roy Stilling, 7 Sep 1999

I am quite positive that it was in place of ensign. It flew on some barges' astern. It was near Bonn, that means wholly within Germany.
Ivan Sarajcic, 7 Sep 1999

Civil Jack / Bugflagge or Heimathafenflagge

According to this webpage the flag flown at the bow of a German merchant ship is known as the Bugflagge or Heimathafenflagge, meaning the bow flag or home port flag, and is the city flag of the ship's home port, such as Bremen or Hamburg. A maritime lexicon available at this webpage suggests that the term Gösch, or jack, is confined to the small national flag flown at the bow, e.g., by government vessels.
The latter source also describes the ceremony of Flaggenwechsel (exchange of flags) when a ship is taken into service by a shipping company and the builder's houseflag (Werftflagge) at the mainmast is replaced by that of the shipping company (Reedereiflagge).
Joseph McMillan, 29 Mar 2001